Sharks to rotate leadership

2015-01-31 00:00

A HEAVY Super Rugby schedule has put squad depth under the microscope in recent years and the Sharks know that all too well, having suffered a number of injury woes last year.

Coupled with the fact that this is a World Cup year and international ­players are being rested and wrapped in cotton wool, depth and player rotation has become increasingly important.

The Sharks have taken heed of last year’s lessons and yesterday named a four-man leadership group who will guide the side throughout a busy 2015 season.

Last year’s captain Bismarck du Plessis is the official squad captain, while Pat Lambie, Tera Mtembu and Frans Steyn will share the leadership load.

It is likely that all four will captain the side at different stages of the ­competition, as players are rotated and rested.

Du Plessis’s appointment comes as little surprise having led the side last season. The burly hooker is one of the best in World Rugby and his 120 Super Rugby caps and 70 Springbok caps speak volumes in terms of his ­experience.

He will no doubt be champing at the bit to lead his charges into battle having had a lacklustre 2014 — especially on the Springboks’ end-of-year tour.

Lambie’s reputation as a level-headed customer makes him another easy choice. With nearly five years’ experience at Super Rugby level and 40 Springbok caps to his name at just 24 years old, it is high time the flyhalf officially moved into a leadership position.

Mtembu has had a meteoric rise in the last two years.

Having only made his Super Rugby debut last year, the loose forward led the Sharks’ Currie Cup campaign ­valiantly and certainly seems to be a promising talent.

His natural affinity for leadership and his lead-by-example attitude rubbed off on the young Currie Cup side last year and he will be looking to book a more permanent spot in the Sharks line-up this season.

The final member of the quartet is 27-year-old Frans Steyn, who is just ­returning from club duty in Japan. The bulky centre is another one of the Sharks’ most experienced players, ­having joined the side in 2006 as a sprightly 18-year-old.

He went on to win the 2007 World Cup with the Springboks and played in the 2011 showpiece.

With Jean de Villiers on a slow road to recovery from a horrific knee-injury against Wales in November, Steyn could be back in the Bok fold.

Director of Rugby Gary Gold is ­officially back in town after his Japanese club Kobelco Steelers were knocked out of the Top League semi-finals. Gold watched the Sharks take on local club sides College Rovers and Durban ­Collegians on Thursday night.

The two club sides played two 25-minute chukkas against the Sharks — who ran in a number of tries in what was a positive display ahead of their week in France.

Gold explained the reasoning behind the move to a group of leaders, sighting the benefit of a collective group of ­experienced and natural leaders.

“The way the modern game is going it is not about individuals but a group of leaders who share ideas and work together as a team in order to achieve the desired results,” he said.

“These four players have proven their leadership ability and commitment to the Sharks over the years and they will be able to rally the group and get the best out of their team-mates.”

Meanwhile the Sharks also named their touring squad yesterday that leaves for Toulon today.

Looking towards the highly ­anticipated North versus South friendly, Gold will be concentrating on a core group of players two weeks away from the start of Super Rugby.

“This match will provide us with the ideal opportunity to test combinations as we look to conclude our preparations ahead of the start of the Super Rugby tournament,” he said.

“We are expecting a highly ­competitive match against Toulon and are looking forward to the encounter.”

The most notable absentees for the trip are Springboks Willem Alberts and Jannie du Plessis.

The match will be broadcast on ­SuperSport 1 next Thursday. Kick-off is at 10 pm (SA time).

Sharks squad

Forwards Bismarck du Plessis, Dale Chadwick, Etienne Oosthuizen, Kyle Cooper, Lourens Adriaanse, Tera Mtembu, Marcell Coetzee, Marco Wentzel, Matt Stevens, Monde Hadebe, Mouritz Botha, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Renaldo Bothma, Beast Mtawarira.

Backs: Andre Esterhuizen, Cobus Reinach, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, Patrick Lambie, Paul Perez, S’bura Sithole, SP Marais, Waylon Murray.

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